Thursday, 1 May 2014

The Rubens at the Palace Hotel Green Wall, Green Sky Thinking week

Genevieve Oller - Marketing Executive

On Wednesday 30th April, Temple attended an event as part of Open City’s Green Sky Thinking week about one of the largest living Green Walls in London. This is situated on the side of the Palace Hotel in Victoria. The event included talks from the Hotel, Victoria Business Improvement District (BID), Tree Box (who installed and maintain the wall) and Temple’s partners the Green Roof Consultancy (GRC), who designed the wall.

The speech from the General Manager of Rubens Hotel offered direct insight into the benefits that green walls can offer a business, even as a private user. The talks from Victoria BID, Tree Box and GRC explained the process involved in the planning, installing and the day-to-day maintenance of the green wall. They also covered the wider developments taking place within this innovative area of green infrastructure.

The Hotel Manager, Malcolm Hendry, kicked proceedings off by discussing what initially prompted the Hotel to consider having a green wall installed. He described this as being an ‘aesthetic journey’, before realising the many environmental benefits it would provide. Malcolm mentioned that the hotel chain often purchases buildings with the intention of regenerating them.

David Beamont of Victoria BID then spoke more generally about the green infrastructure initiatives that they have started in the area, the Hotel’s green wall being just one of these. The Victoria BID is a business-led body which seeks to improve the area, there are some 30 BIDs in London, with the mayor hoping to increase this to 50 by the end of the year. In 2010, Victoria’s BID found that there was a strong steer from businesses for an increase in green spaces. As a direct result of this, the BID undertook a Green Infrastructure Audit which sought to locate areas that would benefit from additional or regenerated green space; this included working with the Green Roof Consultancy to map potential spots for green walls. The first project that Victoria BID worked on was the regeneration of a green space at Buckingham Palace. They are currently working on the plans for a rain garden at the head offices of John Lewis on Victoria Street. The project at Palace Hotel was considered to be an obvious choice.

Gary Grant of Green Roof Consultancy then went back to the basics of Green Walls. He spoke of the different types of wall, these include;   

  • Self-established – those made of stones etc. that when left for a number of years have plants growing within them 
  • Moss mats / Moss Gardening 
  • Hydroponic (geotextile and rockwool cages) – this is for plants that are able to grow on the bark of trees
  • Climbers / Trellises
  • Modular / cellular – when plastic boxes containing soil are stacked together (most widely used)
  • Vertical Rain Garden – the Green Roof Consultancy have designed London’s first     vertical Rain Garden, find out more here.
Armando Raish (Treebox) and Gary Grant (GRC)

Gary then discussed the many benefits associated with green walls including dust suppression, noise abatement, wildlife habitat, evaporative cooling and shade.

Cooling was highlighted as a key benefit. Gary displayed two heat maps, one of Tokyo and the other of New York, which showed that when the temperature was around 30°, the temperature of roofs in the cities could be up 20° higher. The map showed that when green walls and roofs were present, the temperature was dramatically reduced. This can serve to protect people, especially those that are more vulnerable, in heat waves. Interestingly, Gary discussed the increase in research that is being done to make use of green walls for acoustic purposes. Gary also spoke of the less tangible benefits involved with green walls, such as property value and health benefits.  Both David and Gary highlighted the impact of plants being able to remove particulates from the air and to reduce surface water, both of which can yield benefits in 
improved health and reduced carbon dioxide levels.

The wall on the side of the hotel is a stunning addition to the building, and removes an eyesore from the area. Spanning 350 square metres, it contains a combination of buttercups, two varieties of crocus, strawberries, spring bulbs and evergreen geraniums amongst others. The benefits of this particular scheme include improvement in air quality for those living and working in the area, which in turn means improved health for local residents, reduced flood risk, which has been known to be a problem in the area. Furthermore, the interesting array of plants that are spread across the walls make for a picturesque view, as well as an interesting spot for the discerning tourist!

To find out more about Green roofs visit Green Roof Consultancy’s website -

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed it. It was quite interesting to read the different perspectives of your ideas and keep updating us with more posts like this.

    Green living walls